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Posted On Saturday, 05.04.2013 / 7:02 PM

By John Kreiser - Columnist / - Penguins-Islanders series blog

Change in lines changes outcome for Islanders

Matt Moulson and John Tavares have been joined at the hip since they came to the New York Islanders in 2009. It's been a combination that has benefitted both parties -- Tavares has emerged as one of the NHL's top young stars, and Moulson became a three-time 30-goal scorer as his wingman.

The two were apart once in the regular season -- Moulson missed an early April game against the Tampa Bay Lightning with a case of the flu. That's why there were more than a few double takes when Islanders coach Jack Capuano changed his line combinations before Game 2 of New York's Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

With his team having scored twice in three games, and not at all in a 5-0 loss in Game 1, Capuano switched left wings on his first two lines, moving Josh Bailey onto a line with Tavares and Brad Boyes while putting Moulson with Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo.

The result: Moulson was the game's first star after scoring a goal and assisting on the game-winner in New York's 4-3 victory Friday night.

Posted On Saturday, 05.04.2013 / 6:57 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Bruins-Maple Leafs series blog

Hamilton in for Bruins; Maple Leafs add Gardiner

BOSTON -- Boston Bruins rookie defenseman Dougie Hamilton is in the lineup against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals at TD Garden (7 p.m. CNBC, CBC).

Hamilton is replacing Andrew Ference, who received a one-game suspension by the NHL on Thursday for an illegal hit to the head on Toronto's Mikhail Grabovski during the Bruins' 4-1 win in Game 1.

Veteran forward Rich Peverley will replace Kaspars Daugavins and likely play on the Bruins' third line alongside Chris Kelly and Jaromir Jagr.

Hamilton, making his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut, had five goals and 16 points in 42 games as a 19-year-old but was scratched for six of the Bruins' last nine regular-season games, including the final three before the postseason, after the Bruins dealt for veteran Wade Redden at the NHL Trade Deadline. Hamilton and Redden will be paired together.

At the other end, Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner is making his first playoff appearance in place of injured Michael Kostka (broken finger), and veteran defender Ryan O'Byrne is replacing healthy scratch John Michael-Liles.

Posted On Saturday, 05.04.2013 / 6:14 PM

By Staff -  / - Penguins-Islanders series blog

Crosby ready for rough road greeting in Game 3

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby returns to the site of his last road game, but this time the New York Islanders are a playoff team surrounded by fans who haven't seen a postseason game in person in six years.

After after the overwhelming positive reaction Crosby received when he returned to action in front of the home folks of Pittsburgh in Game 2 on Friday, you can expect an equally loud show of non-support in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals on Sunday (noon, NBC).

"That's the playoffs," Crosby said Saturday after practice at Nassau Coliseum. "I think you expect emotion, you expect the opposing team to feed off the crowd, and I don't think that's any different anywhere. They'll be excited and it'll be up to us to make sure to control that.

"Kind of everything gets magnified a little bit when you're on the road, every hit feels like a big one and every chance seems like a big one. So you have to be able to block all that out and just play the game."

Posted On Saturday, 05.04.2013 / 5:48 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - Blackhawks-Wild series blog

Teams expect Xcel Energy Center to be rocking

CHICAGO -- The Stanley Cup Playoffs haven't taken place in St. Paul, Minn., since 2008 and the atmosphere inside Xcel Energy Center on Sunday afternoon is expected to be exciting.

The Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild will square off in Game 3 of their Western Conference Quarterfinals series (3 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS) and the visiting team ought to be a good judge of the playoff atmosphere inside the building.

The Blackhawks are known for having a loud, intimidating crowd at United Center -- starting with the loud cheers during the national anthem -- but they're anticipating the Wild's arena to be like the team's nickname.

"I think it's going to be loud," Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith said Saturday. "The fans there and the way they play the music … they get that building rocking pretty good. It's the first time they've played in the playoffs for a while, so we expect it's going to be a lot of energy in that building and a fast-paced game. We're going to need to be ready right away."
Posted On Saturday, 05.04.2013 / 4:56 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - Blackhawks-Wild series blog

Blackhawks show they can neutralize Wild forecheck

CHICAGO -- Minnesota Wild coach Mike Yeo said on Friday night it was time to go back to the drawing board for Sunday's Game 3 of a Western Conference Quarterfinals series his team trails 2-0 to the Chicago Blackhawks.

After the Blackhawks won Game 2 by a 5-2 score on Friday night at United Center, Yeo said one area that will need to be tweaked again is a forechecking scheme that proved ineffective against the Blackhawks' swift-skating, puck-moving defensemen.

The Wild worked on creating havoc with the forecheck in a practice between the first two games, but the Blackhawks weren't fazed much at all by it -- dominating puck possession and breaking out of their own zone with a head of steam regularly.

"Part of our strength is our defensemen's ability to get pucks out of our zone and our forwards have done a good job of coming back all year supporting, so that makes it a lot easier on the defense when our forwards get back in position to help out," Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith said. "Minnesota's got a lot of good skaters and they're fast, so it's not easy. They get in, on the forecheck, really quick. Guys like Zach Parise are fast getting in there, so we have to be ready."

Posted On Saturday, 05.04.2013 / 4:46 PM

By Staff -  / - Penguins-Islanders series blog

Islanders loose, confident heading into Game 3

The New York Islanders were a loose and confident group Saturday after taking Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series from the Pittsburgh Penguins the night before.

The Islanders trailed 3-1 but won 4-3 to even the best-of-7 series at one game each.

"We didn't get down. We stuck with it, applied pressure and came back," defenseman Mark Streit said Saturday. "The win is great for our confidence, but it's just one."

Posted On Saturday, 05.04.2013 / 4:27 PM

By Dan Myers - Correspondent / - Blackhawks-Wild series blog

Backstrom 'getting better,' not sure about Game 3

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- For the first time since sustaining a lower-body injury shortly before the start of Game 1's Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom addressed the media Saturday following the team's practice, one in which he participated.

"I for sure want to get back out there as soon as possible," Backstrom said. "It's getting better, it's getting there. It's going to take time, but it's something to work on every day. Every morning when you wake up, you hope it's better."

Backstrom was expected to start Game 1 when, during warm-ups, he pushed off his left leg to try and stop a puck. He leaned over on the ice in obvious pain and limped back to the locker room.

About 15 minutes before puck drop, Josh Harding was thrust into the starting lineup for the first time in over two months and stopped 35 shots in a 2-1 overtime loss Tuesday. Harding was stellar again in Game 2, stopping 43 of 47 shots in a 5-2 loss.

Posted On Saturday, 05.04.2013 / 4:20 PM

By Louie Korac - Correspondent / - Blues-Kings series blog

Blues ready to confront desperate group of Kings

LOS ANGELES -- The St. Louis Blues have a 2-0 series lead heading into Saturday's Game 3 against the Los Angeles Kings (10 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS), but won't sit comfortably thinking the series is in the bag.

Both games in St. Louis, 2-1 victories (including the first in overtime), could have gone the other way with one shot. But the Blues, who have never lost when leading a playoff series 2-0 (they're 10-0 in franchise history) will look to snap a five-game losing skid in this building, including a 6-4 collapse on March 5 when they led 4-1 in the second period.

"For us, we just have to play 60 minutes with competitive composure," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We're going to have to absorb some blows, just like you do any place on the road, but we just have to maintain our composure. We gathered it back in (Thursday) in the second half of the game and won the game because of it. We're going to have to find a way to have to do it for more minutes than 30 minutes if we expect to win in this building."

Posted On Saturday, 05.04.2013 / 4:19 PM

By Staff -  / - Penguins-Islanders series blog

Neal skates briefly at Penguins practice

Forward James Neal skated briefly at Pittsburgh Penguins practice Saturday at Nassau Coliseum.

Neal did not play Game 2 of the team's Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series on Friday in Pittsburgh after he sustained a lower-body injury during the second period of Game 1 against the New York Islanders.

According to the Penguins website, Neal "skated a few laps on the ice four roughly 10 minutes in warm-ups."

Defenseman Brooks Orpik, who also missed Game 2, and forward Evgeni Malkin did not practice.

Posted On Saturday, 05.04.2013 / 3:45 PM - 2012-2013 Situation Room blog

NYR @ WSH - 19:15 of the Third Period

At 19:15 of the third period in the Rangers/Capitals game, the referee's on the ice ruled that the puck deflected off Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner's stick and went over the glass. Because the referee's determination was that it was a deflection and that Karl Alzner did not shoot nor bat the puck it was NOT subject to rule 63.2 which imposes a minor penalty for delay of game. This play is not reviewable by the NHL Situation Room.

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